Students 'prudish over sex on TV'

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The Independent Online

For decades they have been seen as the last bastion of free-minded liberalism in a conformist society, but now it seems Britain's students are among the nation's most tightly buttoned prudes.

For decades they have been seen as the last bastion of free-minded liberalism in a conformist society, but now it seems Britain's students are among the nation's most tightly buttoned prudes.

A survey of attitudes on British university campuses found that while few believed it was wrong to show extreme violence or drug-taking on television, most have difficulties with on-screen sex. Despite the acceptance of gay culture into the mainstream, more than two thirds of students thought homosexual sex should never be shown on television, either before or after the 9pm watershed.

The study, by the Index on Censorship, also found that 79 per cent believed there were no circumstances under which a rape scene can be shown, and 30 per cent thought a woman's breasts should always remain covered.

Organisers of the survey of 1,003 students at 10 universities, including Oxford, Durham and Glasgow, said the findings indicated a new conservatism among the nation's youth. The study found that nine out of 10 believed that Britain was a censored nation, with a further 86 per cent thinking that the Government directly controls what appears in newspapers and on television.

But despite the perception of state control, idealistic notions of a permissive self-policing society garnered little support. Some 61 per cent believed that government had a responsibility to define rules of taste and decency, while just 24 per cent thought individuals should be trusted to decide what they want to watch.

Ursula Owen, chief executive of the Index on Censorship, said: "The vast majority of students think we live in a censored society and yet more than half believe that the Government should control what they see, hear and read. It could be a general indifference to such issues or indeed it could be a new conservatism.

"The golden age of social democracy of the Sixties and Seventies seems to be giving way to people putting their heads down.

"This is a generation living in a scary world with much to get on with, from finding a job to paying for their studies."

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